Monday, February 28, 2011

By the Book

I'm convinced there is no greater pain in the butt job than serving as my critique partner. Fortunately, my CP is patient and long-suffering and articulate. We live many, many miles apart and that's probably for the best because it's tougher for her to throttle me when I exhibit my usual Oh-my-gosh-I-don't-understand-what-you're-talking-about.


It's hard critiquing someone else's work. There's the itch to fix it. (But she doesn't!) There's the urge to change it. (Nope!) And if you're not both mature enough to not take the critique personally, you can hurt each other. Ideally, you can both look at it and say, "Here's the problem. How will we fix it?"

I have a terrible time spotting the weaknesses in my writing. Absolutely terrible. I know they're there, lurking in the underbrush, waiting for an unsuspecting reader to stumble across them. I would prefer burying those weaknesses deep and planting some daffodils on top.

I just have to find them. That's where my critique partner rides to the rescue. She points them out with her scarlet pen. We weed them out as ruthlessly as possible. And then we slap down a wide variety of flowers on that enhance the story instead the murky mess that was there before.

Eventually, when we've both done our best, I send the story off to my editor. And she looks at the roots with a mighty microscope. Sometimes she spies terrible bugs chomping away or slime oozing from the roots.

And we do more weeding. More weeding!

Finally, the day arrives when it's a shining example of word gardening. Then it becomes a book--a story I'm proud to share with friends and family and even total strangers.

But it all starts with the lonely critique partner. Bless her heart.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Potato Love

Often we write something on a dare...just because. A few years ago my editor (then) challenged me to write a romantic post with a potato. I'm always one to take a dare (tomorrow I'll post my were-tick story) and I believe love is where you find it. I enjoyed writing this little post and decided to repost it today. I hope you enjoy reading.

Masher McArthur stretched his burly body and wedged his back against the side of the hot tub while he watched Scallop Ziemniak slowly ease into the steaming water. Her smooth curves glistened in the gentle bubbles. He inhaled her luscious scent and savored the anticipation that skittered up his spine.

Tonight he had plans for Scallop. Hot lusty plans. First the hot tub. When he had her softened up, he would drizzle her with fragrant oil and they would bake a while side by side, like two French fries in an oven.

Ah, yes, the touch of her body next to his…

“Masher, what on earth are you thinking?” Scallop demanded. “Your eyes are drooping!”

“Just you and me, baby. I’m gonna cover and smother you so well you’ll never think of that puny Yukon Goldie again!”

“Oh, Masher,” she sighed. “Don’t you know that I love every handsome russet inch of your body? Your warm tan skin smells so earthy and feels so rough. It drives me wild when you grate against me. Are you ready to leave the tub?”

Masher reached for her and gently poked her dark red skin. “Yep, I would say that we’re definitely done. Time for the milk and butter bath.”

Scallop joyfully embraced him before hopping out of the tub. “Hurry up! I can’t wait! Mash me, baby!”


Thursday, February 24, 2011

New Craziness...

Craziness attacks from left field. Life is just tootling along and then bam! And you're trotting down a new path in life. That just goes to show you can never plan on anything long range.

Up until about four weeks ago, my life was all about me, me, me. My rollercoaster sugar counts. My chest pains. My asthma. And then the house hunk had a grand mal seizure--his first in fifteen years. And suddenly, it wasn't all about me.

A week or so later I had my regular checkup. While we were there the hunk asked about getting a new prescription for one of his meds and the doctor said, "Sure." And then she looked up his records and discovered he hadn't been in to see her in over six months. "Nup. You have to come in for blood work."

That was Monday. We went in on Friday for him to give blood and urine. And that evening the doctor called. The hunk needed to see the urologist because there was blood in his urine.

I'll confess here, I wasn't too worried. I couldn't understand what the doc was getting excited about. But we made the appointment and went to see the specialist. There was still blood in the hunk's urine sample so today he had a procedure--the fun one where they stick a teeny camera in there for a look-see.

They found a tumor. And it's cancerous. BUT it's tiny and completely operable. So in about a week, they'll go in and take it out. He also has a kidney stone. They'll take care of that in a couple months.

Now, I didn't have to share any of this with you my readers, but the hunk and I talked about it and decided we wanted to for one simple reason. Cancer is survivable if you catch it early.

Like I said. I didn't think it was a big deal. Fortunately, our primary care doc was on her toes and made sure he saw a specialist. And it's all gonna be good.

Anyway, if I'm in and out and seem to be absent-minded, just bear with me. We're getting things done!


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Strange Love

Any reader who's read some of the more recent shifter stories knows there's some strange goings-on out yonder in the woods. Cats and wolves making out with the bears and's enough to make you wonder, you know?

Of course, all the hanky-panky happens when they're both human. And that seems to work just fiiiiiiine. But you have to wonder what happens if there's offspring from the odd shifter union. What then? Take that couple up there...the zebra and the lion. Uh, what happens when the little lionette or the zebra dudette is born? How do the parents keep the kids from killing each other off? Uh-huh. That would take sibling rivalry to a whole new level.

And of course, you have to deal with the in-laws. You know, keep 'em from eating the spousal unit. Really. That would be very bad manners. Probably set off a generational feud of Hatfield-McCoy proportions.

I bet dinners at the Lion-Zebra household would be interesting, too. "Harold, I thought we agreed you wouldn't eat Aunt Marge until next year."

Makes you wonder what the kids would look like, too. Black and white stripey lions and tawny zebras with wild manes. I'm talking wild here. And there'd likely be an odd looking one with tawny and black stripes with a white mane, just because...

I suspect there's a reason why most of the mixed shifter books end before the I do's. That way the authors don't have to figure out the messy part. I guess I'm the only one that lies awake at night trying to figure it all out. Sometimes it gives me insomnia which I don't mind too much. But when I start dreaming about black and white striped lions, then there's a problem.

So if you're an author that's set on inter-shifter romance, just consider the outcome and whether or not it's gonna give me nightmares... or nightlions. Please.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Sponsors

I think this idea has merit. Some commercials are already mini-shorts. Why not just eliminate the show entirely? Remember that cat round-up commercial? Just think of the potential if they had a half-hour show to do that. Maybe they could get Sam Elliot to play one of the cat wranglers...

Or VW could have an entire season of Little Darth Vader. It could be a combo reality show AND commercial. They could follow Darth around and see if he ever gets the force to work for him. Win!

Tide could have a series that revolved around mothers who sneak around borrowing their daughters' clothing and how they stay out of trouble with the magic of Tide!

Coke could have an entire season to develop their fireworks dragon. Think how cool that would be. Every episode the dragon and the minions attack and at the end of every show the defenders come up with some ingenious way to make the dragon drink coke. Fireworks!

And for the Christmas Show, the dragons could fight the polar bears. Yeah!

It would be more honest, don't you think if the commercials took over network television? In the evenings (after the kids are supposedly in bed, but we all know they're really sitting up) there would be shows like The Little Blue Pill (Always be prepared!) and Beertime Races (combo of drinking game and closed course racing).

After many people professed to tune in to the Superbowl so they could watch the commercials??? Right?


Monday, February 21, 2011

Tequila Age

I'm writing a book that takes place in the Tequila Age. That's because you need to drink a lot of Tequila to keep all the details straight. Other people write books in the Regency period or the Victorian era--times when there are actual written documents they can check and paintings they can look at.

Me? I've got nothin'. Fortunately, mine is a fantasy in the truest sense of the word. The Tuatha dé Danann are either old pre-Irish gods or they're the forerunners of the Fae. Or...they could be pretty much whatever you can convince someone else they are.

My difficulty was settling on a technology level for the story--and not only this story but three more in the set. Do they use iron? Or bronze? If they use bronze, where do they obtain the copper and other metals to serve as alloys? If it's an iron technology how difficult is it to obtain iron ore? What if I want to use a bit of both?

Here is my conclusion: In order for a village/clan to be self sustaining, there must be enough clan members to support craftsmen and/or craftswomen. This means the village/clan must have an area to garden on a grand scale and also a grazing area to raise domesticated animals for substantial food resources. Substantial resources will free up clan members to learn and practice what we would call a trade. Metal workers, potters, textiles, woodcraft, building, the list is endless.

Ultimately, my decision, my choice of clan or village size will rest on the technology level I settle on. And the number of inhabitants will depend on the total area they can devote to food production. Number of people the clan can feed=the number of craftsmen the clan can support=the technology level they can sustain.

This is an important concept. Two thirds of the current world population is living somewhere in the Tequila Age because they cannot feed enough people to move to the next stage. If we who are living in the computer/industrial age do not find a way, many of us will backslide to the Tequila Age. Heck. Many of us will regress all the way back to the stone age.

The stone age is not a funny Flintstone cartoon life. It's subsistence living as the most minimal level. In our cushy lives we have a hard time imagining what life at that level can be like. No sanitation arrangements. No water. No food unless you hunt it down and kill it. No shelter. No clothing.

As we've seen, revolution and catastrophic natural disasters are all around us. It doesn't take much to move from a position of comfort to a life where all is lost. We live in a fragile world where survival is not guaranteed.

My characters in the space of ten minutes went from the industrial/computer age to the Tequila Age. Now I must show the reader the reality of their lives and how they change and adjust or adapt to that level of technology.

To that end, at each step I consider: What would I do? How would I solve this problem? How can I use the resources I have?

Welcome to the Tequila Age.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Real Men like to Snuggle

I suppose this is gonna be my own personal mini-rant. Somewhere along the line we've lost our snugglers. We traded them in for the uber Alphas. Tough. Ripped. Silent. Unemotional. And we lost the snugglers.

Alphas used to be snugglers when they found their woman. And they were even more snuggly when the kids came along. But now? They're too busy hauling their AK-47's around to be snugglers.

Now I'm not talking about during sex. A naked man with a naked woman tends to get a little snuggly. But later...well see, that's the problem. Alphas don't seem to have any laters. Somehow, they're out in the barn or field rustling cattle or they're off fighting the bad guys. But they aren't snuggling anymore!

They don't cuddle up on the couch to watch TV or a movie. Don't share the recliner while they take a nap with their woman. They don't laze away the afternoon in the tub, scrubbing her back or massaging her feet.

Nope, they spring out of bed, yank on their clothes and go off to do whatever alphas do. I say we're cheating them of their rightful privileges to snuggle. They should be able to cuddle at the breakfast table. Or snuggle on the loveseat while they read a book.

Real men like to snuggle. Bring back the snugglers!


PS: Today I'm a guest at Cindy Spencer Pape's Blog. Drop by. Say hello! Go HERE!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sex is Boring

First let me hasten to say that is not a personal statement about my private life...

Had you going there, didn't I? Actually, I thought I would write about the many erotic romance writers who complain about how bored they are with writing sex scenes. My take on that? A) Maybe they should write a non-erotic genre story. Or B) Maybe the characters aren't interested in having sex.

I am no doubt gonna get bopped on the head for saying this, but realllly? Maybe your female characters would rather have a sinful chocolate dessert. Or a decadent candle-lit bubble bath. Maybe your male characters would rather have a beer and watch football. Or maybe he would rather have sex...

I have a confession. I don't plan when my characters are going to jump in the sack...or bend over the kitchen table...or whatever. I just pretty much follow along and they carry on with life. Sometimes they do boring stuff like paint their nails or build a fence. That's the way life is. Sometimes couples have this out-of-control screw-me-quick-against-the-wall thing going on. And other times, they kinda wish their partner would spend a week in Timbuktu.

As a reader, I like to see both sides of the mattress, you know? For one thing, it makes me feel like the characters might be real. I'll never forget reading about a woman who'd had a bad day. Sick kids, broken washing machine, sink overflowing with dirty dishes...and the guy comes in and says, "How about it?"

And her answer? (Come on, now, ladies! What would your answer be?) No, no, no. She says, "Oh, baby, I love when you growl like that."

Huh? What planet is this woman from?

OR how about the guy who's shot all to hell, beaten within an inch of his life, bleeding all over and??? His ladylove jumps him in bed. Hmmm. If I was him, I'd be tossin' her out the window. In the snow. Stark naked.

Here's what I'm suggesting. If your characters seem a little recalcitrant about making whoopee, it might be because they're tired. Or hungry. Or they just want to cuddle on the couch. Maybe it's time to let our characters decide something this personal. That's what I do. And I don't ever find it boring because they're just carrying on without me.

What about you? How do you deal with boring sex?


Friday, February 18, 2011

Mulling and ruminations...

Fifty five degrees this morning and we have the windows open. Yes, it's February. Yep, I know we'll have to close them up and turn on the heat, but it's nice to have a bit of false spring every once in a while. And I love to open the windows and "air out" the apartment.

Want to thank all of you who stopped by to comment on yesterday's post, either here or at facebook. I really appreciated your thoughts on a difficult subject.

Many of you are writers as well as readers so I'm hoping you'll be able to help me out here with some advice or pointers. For those of you who are also reviewers or editors...I'd like to hear from you as well.

Yesterday I discovered several reviews for my books that I'd never read. Before I even begin here I want to say they were all four stars or better. So, good reviews (as opposed to bad reviews).

But. Yes there is a but in this scenario. The reviews--all by different reviewers--highlighted problems with the stories. They highlighted the same problems with the stories that the reviewer who gave them two stars highlighted.

I like to learn from my reviews. I want to improve my writing. What I don't need is a slam at the reviewer because clearly they don't know what their talking about. Clearly, they do. So here's my question...

Why were these weaknesses in my story not addressed earlier in the critique/editing/beta reading process? Here's my concern--do those around me perceive me as such a bull-headed writer that I would resist making necessary changes? Do even other writers believe I'm too fragile to take constructive criticism? Or are these faults missed in the overall reading at the critique/beta stage because the reading is usually done in chunks rather than a whole piece?

And here's a question for the editors out this part of your responsibility as an editor? And if not, how do I address this issue when I clearly cannot see the problems?

I would prefer to fix the issues in my stories before they are released rather than wait for reviewers to point them out. Let me hasten to say the reviewers were spot on with their reviews. I agree with them. Once they pointed out various points, I see them clearly. :-(

So how do the rest of you wrestle with this problem?


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Condoms...or not?

A fellow writer and I had a short discussion yesterday about condom use in stories. She'd recently read a YA story that involved a young pregnant woman, the hero and an anal sex scene with no condom. When she reached that particular scene, the no condom issue pulled her right out of the story. I have to say, it would for me, too.

There is much discussion about the use of condoms in erotic romances. On one side are those readers/authors who believe it slows the story down. They staunchly fight for the right to have sex without one. On the other side are the readers/authors who find the lack of condom both unsexy and unsafe.

The bottom line? Unsafe sex is not sexy. And the risk of an unwanted pregnancy is really not sexy. I had four unplanned children and though I love them dearly, I must confess those pregnancies did absolutely nothing for my sex life.

Several fellow authors have complained about having to insert the condom in a sex scene. I submit there are myriad ways to do so that can add depth to the scene--another dimension than just wild monkey sex between the two characters. That extra two seconds (and really, how long can it take???) can be used to show caring, concern and maturity.

The truth? If I'm worrying about getting pregnant or contracting some life threatening disease, my mind is not on my partner or whatever else we're doing. And I'm pretty sure that's the entire point of the scene. Isn't it?

What do you think?


Reminder: I'm over at Seven Sexy Scribes today discussing "trailer trash" in romance novels. Stop by HERE.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Details, details...

After a day with no writing (doctor's appointment, Valentine lunch, shopping...) I'm back in front of the computer. On my day off I compiled a list of odds and ends I wanted in my current work in progress.

Telling the story isn't the only job when writing. The author (that would be me) also has to fill in the details. Every writer has a different working style. Some are even lucky enough to have those pesky details just come to them when they write.

Unfortunately, I tend to get down to the nitty gritty, leaving out the details until I go back for a second or third pass. That's where my detail list comes into play. For instance:

First pass: They went to the village.
Second pass: Sketch description of village.
Third pass: Probably should mention the skulls over the doorways.

See? Yesterday I compiled a list of details I need to add to my story--not just for the fun of it (though I'm sure it won't be quite as boring with the occasional description), but because some tiny details have great significance to the story line. Without those bits and pieces that story is missing something.

That's what I'm doing today. Adding in the skulls over the doorways. If you're a writer, how do you handle the details? Or are you one of the lucky ones they just flow for?


Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day AND Stylish Blog

Happy Valentine's Day! There are a lot of people out there who think Valentine's Day is for lovers. I'm not one of them. I think Valentine's Day is an opportunity to share the love you have for your family, friends and even total strangers. Limiting love to one person isn't in the spirit of Valentine's Day. That's just wrong. In my family, everyone received a special Valentine with candy and a card at the breakfast table. We all knew we were special. How about you?

I won a stylish blog award last week from Berengaria Brown and am supposed to pass it on. I'm supposed to link back to the person who gave it to me, tell 7 secrets and choose some people to pass it on to.

First of all, here's the link to . Check out her blog! She has all sorts of things on there, including some really hot books.

Second: Seven things about me. Hmmmm.
1) I am not a morning person. I function, but don't talk to me until around noon.

2) I am primarily hermit by choice. I'm one of the rare individuals who could happily live all alone in the woods, seeing another human...oh about every six months.

3) I live very contentedly with the characters in my head. We play dress-up and invent incredible adventures.

4) Writing is the way I choose to share the tamer of my internal adventures. Now...spend some time imagining what the others I don't share must be like.

5) I very rarely watch television or movies (by choice) because I find them boring. There are a few exceptions... Dances with Wolves, The Postman, and Bad Day at Black Rock. The movies I watch have nothing to do with the actors, but rather the stories.

6) I read about fifteen or twenty books a week. Some are new. Most are re-reads that draw me back through the author's use of language or their inventiveness in storytelling.

7) I despise boiled okra.

Now...who shall I choose to give this blog award to?

Barbara Huffert
Amber Skyze
Sandra Cox
Cindy Spencer Pape

Hope y'all have a wonderful day!


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Phantom's Rest release day!

It's release day for Phantom's Rest! Check it out HERE!

When Beauregard Barker leaves his military career due to injuries, he takes refuge at the Phantom’s Rest RV Park, expecting no more than a place to recover as he helps renovate the park. First he discovers the place is full of ghosts. Then Emmeline Fairchild arrives for her annual stay and everything changes. Beau falls hard for the shy calligrapher who’s being stalked by a killer. Whatever it takes, he’s determined to keep her safe and persuade her he’s the man for her.


Narrow shafts of sunlight sneaked past the blinds to bombard
him in the face. Grumpily, Beau rolled over and pulled the
lumpy pillow over his head. A series of muffled thumps from
outside invaded his restless sleep.

Woobie whined.

Beau groped in the covers for Woobie’s “baby”—a tattered,
ragged teddy bear—and tossed it in her direction.
Then the familiar strains of a man singing something Italian
wove their way from next door. Vaguely, he recognized the artist
as one of Aunt Agatha’s favorites, though his name escaped
Beau at the moment. When the volume abruptly grew louder,
Woobie lifted her head and howled along with the singer in
a doggie duet. The music soared to a towering crescendo as
Woobie ended on a high note.

Cursing, Beau sat up and glared at the door. The melody
sounded a lot like opera—his least favorite genre of music. When
the singer switched from operatic Italian to a hypnotic Spanish
number accompanied by flashy guitar work, his patience reached
its limits. While Woobie soulfully howled along with the new
song, Beau knuckled his burning eyes, listening to his dog in
disbelief. He leaned over, groping on the floor for his clothes.
Finally, he snatched up his plaid boxers, jerking them on wrong
side out before leaping from his camper to storm his way to the
driveway next door.

His eyes were bloodshot from the inside out. Tiny leprechauns
were lustily hammering in his head. He yelped and cursed as he
stepped on a sharp stone. Hopping sideways on his bad foot, he
twisted his ankle, landing squarely on his butt in a small puddle
of water. Clapping his hands over his ears, he tried to block out
the soaring music as the singer reached a powerful finale with
Woobie howling in the background.

Abruptly, the music stopped. He closed his eyes, savoring the
exquisite relief.

And then she laughed.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Through the glass darkly...

"We are living in historic times."

I don't have any idea how many times I've listened to a media commentator say that line. What are historic times? And what makes one time more historic than another? Are certain events more worthy of the title historic than others?

What determines whether one revolution is more historic than another? Is it the number of people who die? Or is it the amount of money involved?

Why is one storm an historic storm and another is not? Again, is it the number of people lost or the property destroyed? Or is it the arbitrary numbers bestowed by the meteorologists?

Is one election more important than another because of race? Or are the issues still important?

How many people must a serial killer murder before that total is considered historic? Is that total more historic if most of them are children? Or does any human count?

Every day is an historic day. At some future time humans (maybe even you and I) will look back on today. Some of us will remember this day for purely personal reasons. Some of us will recall international issues. But for one reason or another, we will have the memory of this day somewhere in our minds.

It seems our minds are so stuffed with the debris of living day to day that we only have immediate recall for the truly terrible or the incredibly sublime. With increasing frequency we are unaware of the lesser events that surround us. We ignore the single child who is abused because his or her suffering is not as spectacular as the dozen children who were killed by an insane stranger. We ignore the house fire around the corner, often having no idea who even lived there because after all, it's only one house--not an entire neighborhood.

I wonder at what point we will begin to notice the events surrounding us? Or...are we already too late?


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Blogger Crusade and Phantom's Rest

First off, I've joined Racheal Harrie's Writers Platform Building Crusade. Curious? Check it out here. I confess I have no idea how it works, but I'm willing to try anything once. And hopefully I'll meet a lot of other bloggers!

Second of all, thanks to Lance Cheuvront who pitched in to offer his thoughts on ancient weaponry. I really appreciate his suggestions. (And a couple points I hadn't thought of...) Check out his poetry and other writing on Facebook. The man has a way with words.

Third of all, Phantom's Rest will be released at Passion in Print tomorrow! Check it out! I'm very excited about this book--so much so I'm busy working on the second on in the series.


When Beauregard Barker leaves his military career due to injuries, he takes refuge at the Phantom’s Rest RV Park, expecting no more than a place to recover as he helps renovate the park. First he discovers the place is full of ghosts. Then Emmeline Fairchild arrives for her annual stay and everything changes. Beau falls hard for the shy calligrapher who’s being stalked by a killer. Whatever it takes, he’s determined to keep her safe and persuade her he’s the man for her.

That's all for today!


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sticks and Stones

I'm working on a story set in a relatively primitive culture so I had to decide what types of weapons my characters had access to. It's difficult to envision what would work most efficiently. Finally, I hauled out my book of weapons through the ages. What? I saw that eye roll. Doesn't everyone have a book on weaponry? It should be right between the one on Civil War cooking and the Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures.

Anyway, that's a discussion we'll have at another time. Today we'll talk about swords, spears, axes, bows and arrows. When we think about ancient man, our first image of his weapon is a club. But the oldest arrow heads discovered so far are over 60,000 years old. Though the club is an efficient killing weapon, clearly early man wasn't limited in his arsenal.

Unless you're in close-up, one-on-one battle, the weapon is only as useful as the distance it will travel. This is still true today, even with handguns. Most handgun deaths and injuries are close up and personal. Our image of the stand-off at high noon is a little skewed because of movies and television. The truth is, both shooters expected to take a bullet. The one who triumphed was the one who made his shot count and lived to tell the story.

I suppose you're wondering what I decided. After considerable research I concluded my characters could possibly use anything from sticks and stones to spears, bows and arrows, swords (and shields), daggers and knives, axes, and even poison. It seems the ways for one person to kill another (or an animal) are just about limitless. That more or less makes the gun control issue moot. My hero has a gun. But when his bullets run out, it won't be much good for anything other than bashing someone in the head. And at that level, a rock will work just as well.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Chatty Anny

Tonight I have a chat at Love Romances Cafe...see exact details in the upper right hand corner. It occurred to me that new readers may not know what a chat is. It's a place to come "talk" via the computer to authors and other readers AND read excerpts the authors post.

I love talking to readers on a one-to-one basis. They're bright, witty, and have wonderful insight about books. Every month I meet at least one new reader. And re-connecting with old friends is always fun. I missed that last month when my chat was very abruptly canceled two minutes before it started because of a medical emergency with the house hunk.

I also love connecting with authors both old and new. They post excerpts from their books, chat about what they're working on, and reveal new facets of their personalities.

So if you're a reader or author or maybe even both, drop by tonight at Love Romances Cafe at 7 PM EST. Who knows...since it's almost Valentines Day, there might even be a contest or two. You just never can tell what might come up.

If you're not a member at Love Romances Cafe, sign up early and mention you're one of Anny's friends so Dawn clears you to post. I look forward to seeing all of you tonight!


Monday, February 7, 2011

Was it good for you?

Heh. I did some reading this weekend. Did you ever wonder why one book is a keeper and another isn't? I believe it might be because the keeper provides complete fulfillment on some level.

There are a lot of meh books and stories out there. And then there are the ones that provide such a visceral satisfaction that we don't want the book to be over. We slow down our reading, savoring every word. We might even go back and re-read a portion of the story. And when that book is finished it goes on our keeper shelf because we plan to re-read it again. Why? Because it was that good.

One of the interesting things that have happened to me is to find a book in the midst of a series that is a true keeper while the others are okay. They're good. But they don't touch my soul like that one book. Usually, in that case I'll keep the series based on that one book that wowed me.

There are other authors who wow on a regular basis so much that I've automatically collected all their books and I re-read them every two or three years. They might be entertaining. Or thought provoking. Or touch something deep in my soul. But one thing is guaranteed--when I close that last page, I don't forget them.

A book will speak to one person and not another. I remember discussing a particular author I love with a friend of mine. She absolutely despises this author. As we talked, it dawned on me the very things that I love about this author, are hot points for her. So. We agreed to disagree. Life experience and background have a definite influence on reading preferences.

My sister-in-law will not read fantasy, sci-fi, or paranormal. For her, they are not real and she cannot suspend reality long enough to get into the story. I, on the other hand, love fantasy because of that whimsy, imagination and the exciting possibilities.

Another friend only reads non-fiction as she considers all fiction a waste of time. When I think back over the years and remember all the fabulous books I spent hours reading, I just feel sorry for her. And yet, I suspect she feels the same way about me, wasting my time on all those fiction books.

What authors are automatic reads for you? Mine are numerous. But here are a few of my favorites and why they made my list. I should warn you...most of them might be hard to find.

Georgette Heyer. Whatever your mood, there's a book for you. She wrote mysteries, regency romances, and historical romances. My favorite is Sprig Muslin. It's an extremely lighthearted romance that made me laugh. And laugh. And laugh. The first time I read it (in the middle of the night) I was sitting in the bathroom on the closed toilet lid so I wouldn't disturb my family. Laughed so hard I fell down between the tub and the toilet. The next day I went back to the library and checked out every Georgette Heyer book I could find. I still laugh when I read that one...forty years later. But I know other readers who found it only mildly amusing so I guess humor really is in the eye of the beholder.

Louis L'Amour. Mr. L'Amour is one of those authors who get by-passed by the romance crowd, I suspect mostly because of his covers. That's a shame. He's one of the most romantic male authors I know. His men are truly alpha males. His women are smart, self-sufficient and in the modern parlance, kick-ass. Together, his couples are unbeatable. The vast majority of his books are fairly short, but I heartily recommend all of them. They range from medieval historical to contemporary. Favorites? Last of the Breed, The Walking Drum, Bendigo Shafter, all of the Sackett family series. Oh, yeah...he has secondary characters that show up in several different books. You have to watch for them.

Mary Stewart. Ms. Stewart was one of the first authors I read in high school. The school librarian introduced me to her and I was hooked. She writes true romantic suspense that can curl your hair. She also has a fabulous Arthurian quartet. Her romantic suspense is entertaining and satisfying. The Arthurian books are on my yearly re-read list but they require a commitment because they are not a shallow treatment of the story. From the moment I opened up The Crystal Cave, I was hooked. As a bonus, there are author's notes at the back of the books that explain her treatment of the story. I want to write like Mary Stewart when I grow up.

John D. MacDonald. Mr. MacDonald started writing at the end of World War II. Evidently, he wrote many short stories that took place in the Far East war theater. My favorite quote from one of his interviews--"My agent told me, John it's time to come home from the war." I've read many, many of his books and short story collections. My specific recommendations are his Travis Magee series (all the titles have a color in them--the first one is pink) and another book, The Girl, the Gold Watch, and Everything. If you believe what goes around, comes around in life, you'll truly appreciate that philosophy in this book. I read the Travis Magee books every year, in order, and appreciate them more every time. If you pay attention, they are a living history lesson of what was happening in the world at the time they were written.

That's it for me today. This is the good stuff.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunday Bits

Well. Superbowl Sunday. Some people will be hollering and screaming at their television sets. I will be either reading or writing. Which is much better than last year when I was curled up on the bed, sure I was dying.

The next morning, the hunk hauled me off to the doctor--and then the hospital where I stayed for a week while a blizzard raged outside and shut down our city. Yep. Today is much, much better.

The sun is shining. Brightly. And I suspect it will warm up enough to melt some of the snow. It's supposed to be 41 degrees today. Almost warm enough to open a window or two.

See, that's how you can tell the difference between spring and fall. In the spring, 41 is warm. In the fall, it's cold. Heh.

Let's see. What else have I been up to? Oh! I took the hunk to a new doctor last week. Now usually when you go to a new doc, they hand you a bunch of papers to fill out all the stuff about your medical history. Nope. Not this office. They handed him a computer. It was about the size of an i-Pad and had a hard orange case. And he filled out about a million screens on this sucker.

There were a lot of elderly people in the office who just didn't know what to make of the computer. Two or three didn't speak English so they had difficulties. The Ukranian lady nearly broke down in tears. So while I understand the reasoning behind the computer--maybe it's gonna be a while before it all works smoothly. Not to mention, it took forever to fill out.

So while he's doing that, I decided to go to the restroom. And that became a problem. The woman at the desk looked down her nose at me and said, "You're not a patient."

"No. I'm here with my husband."

She handed me this big hunk of metal with a key dangling from it. "Down the hall."

So. I had my coat. My bag. My folder full of notes. I collected all my junk because the hunk could be called in to see the doctor while I was gone. And down the hall I went. Could not get the key to work. Dumped all the stuff on the floor while I danced around and tried to get the door open.

At last! Grabbed my stuff and rushed inside to the nearest stall...which wouldn't close! Moved to the next one. It wouldn't close either. Heck with it. I dumped my stuff on the floor and struggled to get my pants down while holding the door shut. (Why do we care???)

Plopped on the toilet just in time and contemplated my notes scattered across the floor. Fortunately, it was very clean. I'm not saying it was germ free, but the floor was clean.

So. The toilet tissue. Yep, it was tissue thin. And it ripped off in two and three sheet bits. Why do places buy this thin crap that isn't good for anything? Why?

Finally finished my business and gathered up all my stuff. Went back to the office to find the hunk in with the doctor and my seat taken by someone else.

Eventually, he came out and said he had to go for an x-ray (same building) so down we went to the radiology people. And waited. And waited. And waited.

We left home at eight-thirty in the morning and finally dragged our butts in the door at two-fifteen. How is that right for one office visit and one x-ray?


Friday, February 4, 2011


Friday evening. Another round of storms are rolling in tomorrow. Nothing to get excited about anymore...nothing new. I believe the Superbowl must be this weekend, but we don't have TV so it's not exactly a huge event at our house. Can you tell?

A friend of mine, Amarinda Jones, rode out the huge Cyclone Yasi and lived to tell of it. Her power is finally back on so I expect to hear a bit about it from her. Hurricanes/Typhoons/Cyclones that rate a category five on the scale are scary no matter where you live. I'm just glad she made it okay.

Another friend of mine lives in Cairo. For an extremely moving first person account of the last week or two, check out her blog at Jenyfer Matthews. There are several posts so make sure you go back two or three so you don't miss them. They are truly well worth reading. I'm so glad she and her family are safe.

My parents (who live in Texas) have more snow than I do--and they have colder temperatures. Mighty strange going's on out there in weatherland. My baby brother lives in Chicago where they also have a bit of snow...although I like to point out this snow still didn't beat the record snow Chicago had the year I graduated from high school. Heh. 1967 was a good year!

I proofed my galleys and sent them back to my publisher for Phantom's Rest. Yay!!! Getting excited about the release of this book on February 12th. This is a new venture for me. :-)

Been working on a new work in progress--Shadows on Stone--and I'm very pleased with how it's coming along. I hope to have it finished near the end of February. It's the first of a series I'm calling Tuatha Treasures. I think it's always exciting when you have something new to work on.

And finally--the groundhog (you know the one) forecasts an early spring. Now I don't know if that will pan out or not, but hope does spring eternal, doesn't it? Just in case, I believe I might buy myself a pot of daffodils so all bases are covered.

Y'all have a good weekend. See you on the other side.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Black Cougar Curse

My guests bloggers today are Tess MacKall and Natalie Dae! Please welcome them as they talk about their new book--Black Cougar Curse!
Writing paranormal works is exciting; at least for me, anyway. There's so much you can do, so many ways your book could go because, when creating myths and moving into shapeshifter territory, it really is up to you, the author, as to what happens. There aren't really any hard and fast rules in paranormal, because the world and characters are your creation. If you write about a cougar shifter, as myself and Tess MacKall did in Black Cougar Curse, how our man shifted and when was our choice. We didn't have any specific times Sam, our shifter, could change. He shifted as and when the story demanded it, and to know we didn't have to follow any regimented rules, as one might find themselves doing with a werewolf book--full moon etc.--was a relief.

The curse aspect of the book was also a joy to create. Tess did a magnificent job on the prologue, bringing in mysticism and a sense of the olden days that took my breath away. She introduced the curse in spectacular fashion, in my opinion, and my mind still enquires from time to time whether we should write a book featuring those characters in the prologue. There's a novel right there--so much to delve into that it gets my creative side all excited.

I love writing anything that can't be waved away with a rational explanation. To write something that has so many “not normal” things in it is a joy; after all, your imagination isn't limited--you can explore and create as deeply as you like.

Writing with Tess on Black Cougar Curse was one of the most mind-expanding times in my life. We were of the same mind in where the book needed to go, and we enjoyed stretching our imagination beyond anything we'd done before. I'll never forget writing it, never forget how it felt to pen something with one of my very best friends--a book that will always be there as proof of our friendship.

We hope you enjoy Black Cougar Curse!

Blurb: Deep in the mountain wilderness, Lucia Chavez searches for closure to her father's death, and the mythical black cougar he sought. Drop-dead sexy Cherokee Indian guide Sam Starr knows more than he's telling. After he saves Lucia from being swept away in a mudslide, the bath they both need turns steamy indeed. Sam and Lucia are living proof that near-death experiences can bring two people closer together--they can't keep their hands off each other.

Amidst danger and mystery, Sam and Lucia explore the lust that burns between them. If their desire gets any stronger it could bring down the mountains. Ancient secrets hold the key to their unbridled sexual need. Was their passion written in the stars?

One man. One woman. A curse that binds them--and could tear them apart.

Get your sexy on and read an excerpt here:

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